George Kontos was made for a season like this one.
In his six years with the Giants, Kontos was known to the staff as "Everyday George" for his ability to carry a heavy load out of the bullpen and bounce back quickly. Kontos made 300 appearances for the Giants, including 73 in 2015, when he warmed up 119 times over 162 games.
Durable, multi-inning relievers are going to be more valuable than ever during a short season, but Kontos will bring that expertise to Giants broadcasts in a different way. He is joining NBC Sports Bay Area as an analyst for the pre- and postgame shows. It's a natural transition for Kontos, who showed an interest in a second career in media throughout his time with the Giants.
"I did have some inclinations from early on when I was a player in San Francisco that one day this might be the route that I would take," Kontos said on the Giants Insider Podcast. "It's definitely nice to be coming back to the black and orange and being around San Francisco again."
The road back to San Francisco took some twists and turns over the last couple of years. Kontos pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees in 2018 and spent part of last year pitching for the Long Island Ducks. That successful stint landed him with the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, although he didn't make it back up to the big leagues. Kontos, 35, felt he had more left in the tank this offseason, and he visited the Driveline facility near Seattle to work on tweaks to his delivery. He found an extra couple of ticks on the radar gun and threw for scouts before spring training, but while he was talking to a couple of teams about opportunities in early February, he ultimately did not end up in a camp.
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"I think the pride kicked in a little bit. I said to myself, I've given the game everything I can," Kontos said. "I can look myself in the mirror and say that I always left it on the field. I gave it everything that I had every time I was on the mound and I was comfortable walking away with that thought."
Kontos walks away with a sneaky-good line on the back of his baseball card. He made 350 big league appearances over eight seasons and retired with a 3.10 ERA. In six years with the Giants he had a 3.05 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, with four seasons in which he made at least 50 appearances out of the bullpen for Bruce Bochy.
Kontos also won two rings and made nine postseason appearances for the Giants out of the pen. He talked about some of the highlights of that career on this week's Giants Insider Podcast:
Those years in the bullpen included plenty of time around Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt, two other durable relievers who went on to do TV work. Kontos said the relievers would spend the first five innings or so chatting about the game and imitating broadcasts. Then it would usually get to that time when Bochy would look out at the field, see looming trouble, and call down to get Kontos ready.
These days, the right arm is mostly used to drive golf balls. But Kontos has always wanted to stay in the game, and he'll do so as an analyst.
"I'm glad to be coming back and glad to be joining you guys and being in the city that I love and covering the team that I love," Kontos said. "It's going to be fun and I'm very much looking forward to this."